I don't quite remember when I fell in love with tea but I do remember the most special moments of me drinking tea. I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I had just met her months earlier and it was awkward for both of us. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado. He was a professor at one of the universities and she was a housewife. After years of drug addiction and being in and out of jail, she deserved the break. I was homeless so she and her husband agreed to let me come live with them. Each evening my mother and I would find a spot in the living room with a cup of tea and a book.

Now, years later, I'm a self proclaimed tea expert. I start each day with a wonderful English Breakfast tea to get me going. As the day progresses, who knows what wonderful tea I will crown queen. But for sure, I have at least three cups of tea a day. And yes, when I can, I have tea everyday at about 3:00 P. M. I love to invite my friends over for tea and cupcakes and so far everyone thinks it’s a delightful experience. I am always in search of the best blend of tea. Yes, I’m a tea snob, I prefer loose tea but I do like some bags also. I have learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. Some bags can be quite nice. And yes again, any Diva knows, what you drink your tea out of is very important.

Tea for me is a way of life. It's wellness for the mind body and spirit. Here, I will explore every expect of tea possible, with a high concentration on wellness. I will review the best teas, the best places to have tea, the best ways to brew tea, the best tea accessories, what tea goes best with what foods, and the list goes on and on. I plan to share my passion for tea with you. And I've been told, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this tea journey with me.

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

Until recently I had never drank Peppermint Tea made with loose leaves. And Honestly, I will probably never go back. The freshness of loose Peppermint Tea cannot be denied. When I open the can of Mint Medley, From The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, I feel as if I stepped into a garden of peppermint leaves. It is a perfect blend of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves grown in the US.

Mint Medley has become a favorite and I find myself reaching for this tea tin almost everyday. It is great for on-going nausea. The health benefits and endless. It relieves muscle aches, headaches, migraines, stress. And now that it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and I have a mean cough, I'm sure it will help to relieve some of this congestion in my chest. Mint Medley has been in my tea cup more than any tea as of late. It has really helped with my winter cough, congestion related to this bout of pneumonia. You can read my full review on The Persimmon Tree Tea Company Mint Teas.

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

Welcome to my world of books! As an pre-teen books changed my world. I fell in love with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance period and the more I read the more I wanted to read. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It spoke to my own degradation and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

I love to read! Inside a book I escape into someone else's life. There is something wonderful about turning to the next page of a wonderful story. Something intoxicating about the smell of the book and the story it brings to life. Reading brings me joy, and these days with my health in the balance, I find solace in my books.

I spent hours in my bedroom sequestered with the door closed reading the classics from the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Wright and Baldwin. Books became my escape and my salvation. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

Reading is the one thing that the pain of my life could never take away from me. It was the thing that helped to make it better. And even today, living with AIDS, books continue to be the safest place for me. It’s the one thing that belongs to me that AIDS cannot take away from me.The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS.

The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS. I have read hundreds of books from many different genres and I will pick the best of my reads over the years. I warn you, it will not be exclusively white or black, male or female, fiction or non fiction, it will be all of them.

I’m so excited and I’m grateful to everyone who wants to be a part of this venture. We already have 110 Book Club Members. You can email me @ RLTReads@raelewisthornton.com. The Twitter hashtag is #RLTReads. We can make this book club as wonderful as we want to make it. Who says that Oprah has to have the only ownership to a wonderful book club?

This Month We are Reading In My Fathers House by E Lynn Harris

Read along and join our discussion July 19th at 7 pm CST

For more Tea with Rae "Vlogs" Click here to visit her youtube channel

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Reflection:The Courage To Go On...

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Chicago. That I knew for sure as I sat on the patio at Corner Bakery eating my oatmeal, drinking English Breakfast tea and reading James Patterson’s book, Alex Cross’s Trail. By my standards it was a good day, yet I couldn't stop crying.

I’m not sure what sparked the tears. Maybe it was the book I was reading, a historical fiction painting the degradation of African-Americans in the beginning of the 20th century in Mississippi and the horror of lynching. Their hopelessness on one hand and their fight on the other. Whatever the case, the tears started to flow like the Mississippi River. The superwoman in me looked around to see if anyone had noticed. Then I shifted my seat on an angle and turned my body so that my back was to the other people enjoying the patio and their morning delights.

“Your life is a big fat mess,” I mumbled to myself. But that’s nothing new, it’s been a mess for as long as I've known it. Nothing has ever come easy for me. Not one damn thing! A childhood plagued by sexual, physical and emotional abuse, I became a grown-up as a child, trying to ensure my safety in a chaotic environment. I became my own bread winner at age 17, the October of my senior year of high school when Mama locked me out because I was 15 minutes late for my curfew.

Yes, it has been a mess, but, honestly, I’m used to whatever this life has rendered me. So I became mad at my tears for betraying me at my favorite breakfast spot. Every time I dried my eyes and thought I was moving on, they started to flow again. “This is not cute, girly,” I told myself. “Pull it together. Process whatever this is and move on.” Lately, it seems like life has become harder. “Lord, I need a break. For Real,” I mumbled to myself as the tears dropped onto the pages of my book.

AIDS has been a constant thorn in my side. I've been on and off IV medications for the last three years. And to top it off, lately, the side effects of my HIV medication have caused me to have constant headaches and uncontrollable diarrhea, yes, even in public. But that’s an old problem I should be used to,” I told myself. My finances, if that’s what I can call them are in shambles. The loss of my book deal sent me on a downward spiral that I have not been able to climb out of. Yes, I was feeling sorry for myself. I started to recognize the signs as I made the list of my sorry ass life in my head. No family, but yes I have friends. But what about the people who come in your life under the pretense of support, then use you, violate your trust and move on to the next best thing. I’ve had my share of those lately too. “It is what it is Rae,” I mumbled. “Lord, I need a break!” I whined, “Do you here me up there? I need a break!”

Somewhere in the long list of complaints, I remembered that my life is not my own. It belongs to God, all that I am and all that I have. God’s plan for my life is perfect, it just don’t feel like it sometimes. God’s got your back and that should be enough to give you the courage to go on. I thought about that long and hard. The courage to go on. It is more than a notion when your day to day is threatened and you can’t see God’s awesome plan for your life in it’s fullness when you have to decide on whether to pay a bill or buy groceries; when your body is failing you and people too.

Then I remembered another woman’s story I heard on my trip to South Africa with Sheryl Lee Ralph. In the last few years, at my weakest moments, I replay her story in my head and her courage gives me the courage to go on. This South African woman told the story of how she was grabbed on her way to worked and gang raped. That's how she contracted HIV. You could hear yourself breath as she explained, “These men watched me undress, by knife point, and then they made me hold my stockings so they could cut them to tie me up. And one by one they raped me. When one man had finished another man climbed on top of me. Another man walking by that morning tried to rescue me, but they cut him. And one by one, they started all over again. When the police finally came, they had to pull one man from on top of me. The police arrested the men.”

And you could hear a sigh of relief. Every woman in the room exhaled. And after a long pause she said, “After the police pulled the man off me, I got dressed, and then I went to work.” A silent sadness swiped the room and tears immediately flowed from every woman’s face, both African-American and South African alike. We instantly felt her pain. After another paused, she said, “If I had not gone to work, my family would not have eaten; my mothers, my father and my siblings.”

At that moment, my life was changed. I thought that I was one tough ass cookie but she clearly trumps anything I thought I could do. Gang raped and then go straight to work? I don't think so. What courage it took to tell her story. What courage it took to withstand gang rape and then not miss one beat in her life. Yes, sitting there remembering her courage gave me courage to go on and face whatever this is. God’s plan for my life is bigger than any that I could ever plan for myself. All I need to do is get out of my head, keep the faith, have the courage to go on and see how God's wonderful plan unfolds.
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